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fall has sprung

For many Texas gardeners, I suppose fall is like a second spring. It lasts long and has the mild weather that many ‘spring’ plants love. My husband and I spend a good portion of our summers abroad and so I usually come back surprised to see what’s made it and what hasn’t. Summer here is a beast, and leaving my plants to its beat-down heat and sometimes drought for an extended period involves a lot of trust (both of the friends who water and watch out for things and trust in the weather).

This year couldn’t have been any different from last summer. Obviously it rained, sometimes too much. Things look overgrown and stringy… many many bugs, and lots of rusty moldy looking stuff. Sometimes extreme wet heat is worse than dry heat. Last year so many things died from the heat and drought I was forced to reconsider what I wanted out of my garden. I wandered around my neighborhood when I first got back last week, looking at the plants in people’s yards that survived. Cosmos, zinnia… and a yellow trumpet flower bush I can’t remember the name of right now. So I know I’m not alone even as a new gardener. “Stringy” is the look everywhere. There’s just not much you can do.

But in any case the nice thing about leaving and coming back is that I don’t have to deal with ‘garden-itch’ all summer long–looking outdoors, wanting to plant. When I arrived back home last week, it was already time to start ordering bulbs, plotting new plants, starting vegetables etc.

And weeding. And cutting back the bajillion chinaberry trees, suckers and seedlings everywhere. I think the chinaberries (and their seeds) dug the rain and heat more than anything else, which stinks because last spring I already started plotting how to destroy them all. They are incredibly invasive. I’m also out to hunt and destroy all trumpet vines.

My next big project is to really finish making and planting bed on the side of the house, which is going to be largely roses and a few plants under them. Right now it is full of lantana and a dense stand of ruellia which never blooms because there’s too much shade. (From the chinaberries, of course.) Must cut back more chinaberries so roses will bloom, too.

I’ve discovered that gardening is as much of a science experiment as it is an artistic expression for me. I like to watch things through every stage and make small adjustments. I’m the kind of person, I suppose, that was made for seed-starting. So I have already started on what is bound to be a house and yard full of seed-starting flats. I like reading all the labels, giving them the exact thing they need, pulling them inside and out. I’m completely a beginner at seed-starting but have already learned how to make my own soil and filled our laundry room with seedstarting supplies. I’m going to outgrow it soon enough, I can tell.

Anyway, here’s to fall and to the far-too-many-projects-that-I-have-time-for-but-pretending-I-do. If all goes well, by November I’ll have a new back patio, rose bed, new lawn in the bare spots on the back yard, rock bed, bed for fragrant plants, and maybe even a greenhouse to boot. Hee hee.